DA MAN celebrates some of the most talented young Indonesian guys in their field. The past year has brought out a lot of fresh faces, each of whom has stood head and shoulders above the rest and, in our opinion, have many more hot years to come.
Marcell Siahaan: Uniquely hip
With a golden voice, two flowing Maori-like tattoos and a powerful physique, Marcell Siahaan is all about style. He really seems to be a guy that dances to the beat of a more intelligent drumbeat than a lot of others. He also doesn’t seem interested in following the same old, tired routines that others do, perhaps that comes from how he grew up. “When I was a kid, I was really scared of being alone. I spent most of my childhood alone, because my parents—they have their own business—didn’t always have time for me. Now it’s kind of like the opposite. I have come to understand that sometimes being alone in solitude is necessary to be centered,” Marcell explains. In some ways, he is the ultimate role model for Indonesian diversity. To wit: His ethnic tableau covers nearly every corner of this grand and diverse archipelago, from Ambonese and Batak to Sundanese and Javanese. He’s also recently devoted his life to Buddhist teachings and is an avowed vegetarian.
Known mostly for his music, Marcell is turning heads as an actor, with two films to his credit this year alone. Laskar Pemimpi (Dream Warriors) and the critically acclaimed Madame X. With a keen interest in alternative music, he has also been involved in a grunge/hardcore indie band called Konspirasi. “We were inspired by the sound of the 1990s, from Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots to Alice in Chains … I am on drums making the beats!” He may look like the quintessential “bad boy” type, but make no mistake, he’s a very responsible guy. “As a public figure, we have to be responsible because the public have eyes on us in our everyday lives. My family and close friends knows me as myself, and can pardon any weaknesses I might have, but the public is not always so forgiving,” he adds.
Lucky Kuswandi: Making his own Luck
One of the most promising young directors in Indonesia is Jakarta-born Lucky Kuswandi, who had a big breakout in 2010 with the success of Madame X. Lucky does not have a huge number of films to his credit, but the few that he has done, have shown his amazing attention to detail. Crucially, he is fearless when it comes to exploring themes that are deemed controversial. “I think the Indonesian film Industry would be better off without the Film Censorship Department, that way the viewers can learn to be responsible and do the censoring/screening themselves. That’s how the viewers in general can grow mature,” Lucky explains to DA MAN. He has often delved into the themes dealing with alternative sexual orientation, while taking on society’s stigmatization of such people. “ If you dont like a certain movie, you can protest against it or voice or your opinion as much as you want, but dont ever try to keep the movie from playing. The filmmakers have every right to make a movie just as much as you have the same right to protest it,” he adds.
His level of professionalism and boldness to push the envelope could very well help push the local film industry up to the standards set by Hollywood. In fact, much of his filmmaking education took place right next door to Hollywood, at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Since coming back home to Jakarta in 2005, he has garnered kudos for his work from the Jakarta International Film Festival; has won the award for Best Film Project for his work on Nona Indonesia, and in 2006, he was picked from among 6,000 applicants around the world to participate in the prestigious Berlinale Talent Campus. His short film entitled Still was the official selection at no less than 23 film festivals around the world, including Cannes.
Eko Supriyanto: Global dancer
“We have seen nowadays that some forms of art are only enjoyed by other artists. This is a deviation from the true function of art. The function of ‘art’ is restored when it can be enjoyed once again by people of every background,” so says superstar dancer and choreographer, Eko Supriyanto. He may not be a household name to many, but in dance/theater circles he’s considered one of the world’s foremost experts, particularly when it comes to royal Javanese choreography. He’s also well-known to pop icon Madonna, having spent a lot of time working with her on a recent world tour. With a Master of Fine Arts degree from UCLA, which boasts one of the best performing arts departments in the world, Eko is a bona fide star.
As a youth, he began learning from his father the art of Javanese (specifically, Solo) Court dance as well as the Javanese martial art of pencak silat, which is all about refined athletic movements. He has performed, or directed performances, all over the world including Gyorgy Ligeti´s opera production Le Grand Macabre directed by Peter Sellars, at Paris’s Le Théâtre du Châtelet, as well as at the opening of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. Now he is working on a project entitled Onrop Musikal. “This musical highlights the importance of collaboration, passion and determined commitment to Indonesian fine art when it comes to creating art,” Eko explains. “We have the talent and we have the minds to do it—that much is for sure. Next thing to do now is make sure we are committed enough and trust one another enough to make something great out of what we have.”
Jompet: The next ‘it’ artist
While casual art fans may not be overly familiar with him, the name that is on art aficionados’ lips these days is Jompet. His full name is Agustinus “Jompet” Kuswidananto and he hails from Yogyakarta. In his mid-30s, Jompet is an installation artist, whose striking, haunting and thought-provoking pieces have the art community abuzz about his potential. “Before I went into art, I was a cameraman, video editor and musician. I joined up with many kinds of art communities as well out of interest,” Jompet tells DA MAN. “I was involved later on in many multidisciplinary art projects. I know the passion for art is inside of me, and somewhere along the way of discovering it, I just found myself a visual/installation artist.”
Represented by Jakarta-based Ark Galerie (arkgalerie.com), his work is laced with political satire and pointed commentaries on some of the socio-cultural issues that are rarely discussed in Indonesia, at least openly. Many pieces also reflect an interesting take on history, particularly Javanese history during the Dutch era, laden with symbolism. “I live and learn from the tension between traditional-modern, old-new, mystical-scientific issues of Javanese culture,” Jompet explains. In interviews, he’s mentioned his hope/desire that people would become more open-minded, both to help the country and to appreciate his art. For art collectors: If you don’t have a Jompet piece yet, you’d better find one before they are all snapped up.
Vino Bastian: Chic rocker
Vino Bastian used to be known for his style resembling some of those late-1970s punk rockers, punctuated by his vintage muscle cars like his ‘72 Holden and his ‘65 Chevy. Born in Jakarta in 1982, Vino is now a veteran of the acting scene in Indonesia, but started his career as a model while still in junior high school. He certainly came from a talented family. “My father is a writer, my uncle is a well-known traditional dance instructor and art runs deep within my family. That is why acting sort of came naturally to me,” Vino explains. His debut feature film was 30 Hari Mencari Cinta (30 Days Searching for Love) in 2004, directed by Upi Avianto. And in the past couple years, Vino has had a string of impressive performances in Radit dan Jani (Radit and Jani), with renowned model/actress, Fahrani; In The Name of Love; Punk in Love; Serigala Terakhir (The Last Wolf) and Satu Jam Saja (Only an Hour) this year.
Many people still regard Vino as a rebellious punk, but he begs to differ. “I prefer characters that reflect the spirit of youth, much like myself—rebellious, independent and with all the robust traits of the young generation … I’m still in that particular stage of my life, although not so much the rebellious part—and it just feels relevant to play these,” he tells DA MAN. When asked what inspired him as a youth he says, “When I was a kid, my father would take me to see lots of movies, from Western movies to Hong Kong martial arts movies with Bruce Lee and other Asian stars in it. This inspired me to be like those characters.”
For the full feature, pick up a copy of the DA MAN December 2010/January 2011 issue.
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